Feb 3 2018

A home in the hills, a school in the city

Sandra, a sponsored youth and Unbound scholar in El Salvador, logs many miles in her pursuit of an education. Her tenacity is serving her well as she makes steady progress toward a degree in English literature.


This is the fourth and final post in a series of stories focusing on the challenges of finding adequate, affordable housing in the economically developing world. It is told through photographs and originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of our print publication Living Unbound.

By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director

Poverty limits the creation of dreams, blocks visualization of goals and buries hopes. But poverty isn’t something everybody experiences in the same way. It’s an individual, personal and intricate problem.

Some people face a lack of decent housing, while others have a hard time getting to school or just can’t pay for their next meal. The time and energy they spend on finding ways to solve their daily struggles takes away from the time, vision and resources they need to build a better future.

Sandra, 23, always dreamed of attending college. Her father, a coffee farmworker, and her mother, who works as a cook, barely earn enough to cover the needs of their family of five, and providing a college education for Sandra wasn’t a possibility.

Being sponsored and receiving a scholarship from Unbound, in addition to working as a waitress on weekends, opened a door for Sandra to attend college. The flexibility to use her Unbound benefits directly toward achieving educational goals gave her the chance to stop worrying about “How can I do it?” and focus on “I am doing it!”

Waking up at 3:30 a.m., leaving home by 4:30 a.m., and walking for 30 minutes through coffee plantations and dirt roads to the closest bus stop are just the first steps on her daily journey to education. After almost two hours on three buses, and spending $1.50 just to go one way, she arrives at school by 6:45 a.m.

Sandra is working toward a degree in literature. She has no Internet at home and no proper place to study. So, on top of the grueling travel, after leaving school she spends a few more hours at an Internet cafe in town.

The rural location of her home, a lack of transportation nearby and the unavailability of basic technological tools make her education much more difficult. Despite the difficulties, Sandra remains determined to reach her goal.

“I can’t have what the other students have, nice clothes and shoes,” Sandra said. “But that is OK. I am focused on getting my education.”

Thousands of young people in Unbound, like Sandra, have the ability to decide how to best use their sponsorship or scholarship funds to overcome their reality of poverty. It’s an opportunity for them to look up and think about the future.

Unbound scholarships help students pay for transportation, tuition and other needs. Donate today!

Henry Flores

Communications Liaisons Director

Based in Colombia, Henry Flores has been with Unbound for more than two decades, serving as translator, subproject coordinator, project coordinator, regional director for Guatemala and El Salvador, and now as communications liaisons director. His experience working with Unbound has deepened his belief that families living in poverty can become empowered and self-sufficient.

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